“Made circa 1943, this piece embodies an important era of the 1900s in jewellery and watchmaking collaboration. Unofficially this piece can be called “Jaeger for Hermès” and there are very few examples of these early 1940s dress pieces available on the market today.”

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This manual wind Jaeger-LeCoultre jewellery piece demonstrates distinct craftsmanship and unusual design popular in the mid-1900s. With 30mm x 13mm case size, this is an elegant ladies’ dress timepiece. More appropriately - but unofficially - this piece can be called “Jaeger for Hermès”, as could other collaborative works between the two houses. It is uncertain if this would have been a private commission or a saleroom piece manufactured for Hermès.

Made circa 1943, this piece embodies an important era of the 1900s in jewellery and watchmaking collaboration. The best watchmakers worked alongside the most skilled jewellery artisans to create specialities for the wealthy. These were two brands that commanded large market shares in Europe at the time. Jaeger-LeCoultre is well known for being the “watchmaker's watchmaker” for having realised more individual calibres than any other Swiss manufacturer. They are the inventors of the smallest mechanical movement ever created, the cal. 101, still holding the title until today for this technical feat.

The extraordinary step dial in silver, with black painted markers holds two blued steel sword hands centrally. Arabic numerals 12, 3, 6 and 9 are painted in black

Another striking feature is the domed barrel mineral crystal, which runs the full length of the watch case giving a smooth profile and optical effect.

The black painted hour markers and brand look to be repainted by a restorer sometime in the last few decades. There are some minute irregularities in the paint indicating careful work being carried out, but not the original dial markings. The Hermes writing appears to be in tact and untouched.

The case is incomparable to many in its irregularity as there are so few examples left on the market to see of these early 1940s dress pieces. The dial and case would have been made for or by Hermès, with the beating heart of no other than a JLC Cal. 101, with it’s obvious off-centre winding crown on the caseback. The calibre 101 was invented by Jaeger-leCoultre in 1929, contains 98 parts and weighs around 1 gram. The whole movement is 1.4cm long and less than 0.5cm wide to give an idea of scale, so it fits easily in this case as with many smaller jewellery pieces.

The stepped case is set with two large cabochon rubies between the curled lugs at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock. This exterior craftsmanship would have been beyond the capabilities of JLC watchmakers at the time, and shows the proficiency of Hermès jewellery making. While Jaeger commissioned local artisans to create their early watch cases, it’s more likely that Hermès would have actually commissioned the movement from Jaeger to ensure an excellent timepiece. We suspect that the gold bracelet is not original but a special order and a later addition to the watch. Many pieces of the time would have come on thin linked or solid bracelets and slender leather straps. This bracelet addition gives the watch more substance and durability.


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